The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]
News, 22-29/6/02 (2) PROSPECTS FOR PEACE * By invading Iraq, America will lose the war on terror * Peace has to remain an option * Bush warned against hasty action on Iraq * No reason behind Iraq attack * White House hawk [General Wayne Downing ] on Saddam quits * Anti-terror chief quits after being 'ignored' [Extract] PROSPECTS FOR WAR * Sighting in on Saddam * Spooks vs. Saddam * Gulf War Lessons for the Bush Administration * American reinforcement in Turkey for striking Iraq; Baghdad: dialogue with the UN will not bring back the inspectors PROSPECTS FOR PEACE http://sunspot.net/features/lifestyle/bal to.liz24jun24.story?coll=bal%2Dartslife%2Dtoday * BY INVADING IRAQ, AMERICA WILL LOSE THE WAR ON TERROR by Liz Smith Baltimore Sun, 24th June THE SAD THING is that the American people will only wake up once we invade Iraq. Once the international community explodes in a wave of anti-American sentiment, ... once we realize that by invading Iraq we've actually lost the war on terror because we no longer have the moral high ground. ... "When America becomes the arrogant, international bully, we will lose the world on this. We will no longer have consensus to pursue Osama bin Laden or anybody else." This is the daring opinion of Scott Ritter, former U.N. arms inspector in Iraq. And much more on him is in the new Cigar Aficionado article by Gordon Mott titled "Is Scott Ritter a Patriot or a Traitor?" Before you accuse Mr. Ritter, or this column, of being unpatriotic, you might want to realize that Secretary of State Colin Powell and others share some of his fears. Ritter says we can't condemn nations supporting terrorists and continue to court the Saudis, whose citizen terrorists of Sept. 11 attended their rigid religious schools. What we need is a new "Manhattan Project" to develop sources to end our dependency on Middle East oil. Then we can tell the Saudis to go fly a kite. http://news.scotsman.com/columnists.cfm?id=687532002 * PEACE HAS TO REMAIN AN OPTION by Marion Woolfson The Scotsman, 24th June A GROWING number of Scots are joining anti-war demos and contacting their MPs to express their fears about the prospect of military action against Iraq threatened by President Bush. Tony Blair may agree to President Bushıs declared aim of killing Saddam Hussein. It seems that neither of them realise the dangers. If there is a war in the already turbulent Middle East, it is more than likely that other countries will become involved, and the conflict could become a global one. Aware of what could be the very perilous outcome of such a war, 135 MPs signed an Early Day Motion on February 4, expressing "deep unease" that Britain might support "United States military action against Iraq" and urged the Prime Minister "to use Britainıs influence with Iraq to gain agreement that UN weapons inspections will resume". Although President Bush declares that Iraq is part of an "axis of evil", he has produced no evidence to back this up. Indeed, US investigators have stated categorically that "there was no link between Iraq and the September 11 attacks", and the only tenuous suggested connection - a meeting between an Iraqi intelligence agent and Mohammed Atta, one of the hijackers - "had not taken place". The Miami Herald has reported that: "Officials have established numerous ties between the hijackers and al-Qaida, but none to Iraqıs government - and not for a lack of trying." When Saddam came to power, after deposing his predecessor, Ahmed Hasan al-Bakr, in 1979, he attempted to turn Iraq into a secular state. Women received the same pay as men, and there were as many women teachers as men, and also nearly as many doctors. The law was changed to allow women to inherit property. A massive anti-illiteracy programme was installed and this won a UN award. BUT things were changing, and dissidents were being taken to what the Iraqis call "the palace of the end", which is the main prison in Baghdad, and executed. Saddamıs son, Uday, a murderer and psychopath, was given increasing power and, following the Gulf War, after Saddamıs two daughters, who were married to high-ranking military men, defected to Jordan, Saddam persuaded them to return, promising not to harm them. But he murdered his two sons-in-law. It is not surprising, therefore, that the regime should be equally paranoid about other matters. Because of the belief that Iraq might be concealing "weapons of mass destruction", the US and its allies insisted on weapons inspections being carried out, but the Iraqis claimed that some of the inspectors were American spies (later proved to be true) and the inspectors were asked to leave. Ever since, the Iraqis have been "punished" by almost daily US and British bombing raids and by cruel sanctions. Before the Gulf War, I was shown, with great pride, the huge new hospital in Baghdad called Medical City, run by the countryıs national health service, which had the very latest equipment. Now, it is short of all kinds of vital medical supplies causing much suffering among an innocent population who are immensely kind and hospitable, but very afraid, not only of attack from outside but of internal repression. Saddam is equally fearful. Before a meeting with him in his palace in Baghdad during the war with Iran, I had to leave my cameras and tape recorder behind. As I approached the marble-panelled interior, decorated with vases of carnations, I was frisked by soldiers who took away my handbag, notebook and pen. I was given a notepad and pencil. Another journalist, Farzad Bazoft, who was working for the Observer, was not so lucky. Although he should have known better, he was so keen on getting an exclusive story that he put on a white coat and, pretending to be a doctor, went to a hospital, where it was rumoured there were patients injured by chemical weapons. He was arrested and accused of spying. Unfortunately, he was of Iranian origin and, although well-known in Iraq, he was hanged in 1990. The UN Security Council voted in April to extend the oil-for-food programme for six months from May 30, but imports which could be used for military purposes are not allowed. Thus, computers, crop-sprayers, trucks and cosmetics are banned and, say Iraqi officials, these sanctions "will prevent any development of our economy". It was reported recently that Iraq was preparing to agree to allow weapons inspectors to return to the country "in an effort to avert a US attack". But this seemed unlikely. George Monbiot, one of the worldıs leading experts on international affairs, wrote that the US government was attempting to remove the diplomat in charge of ridding the world of chemical weapons. This, he added, would mean that there were no peaceful options for dealing with any chemical weapons that Iraq may possess, and would lead to a war to destroy them (which is the pretext sought by the US). The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) enforces the chemical weapons convention. It inspects laboratories, factories and arsenals and ensures the destruction of such weapons. The man in charge was the immensely popular Brazilian Jose Bustani, whose inspectors ensured the destruction of two million chemical weapons and two-thirds of the worldıs chemical weapons facilities. HE has succeeded in increasing the signatories to the convention from 87 to 145 in the past five years. Two years ago, he was unanimously re-elected to a second five-year term, although he had not yet completed the first. However, the US State Department asked the Brazilian government to recall him as it did not like his "management style". But such interference is strictly forbidden. The Brazilians refused. Then, the Americans put forward charges which were also ignored. The US began putting various kinds of pressure on other nations. Mr Bustaniıs last hope was that the UK would make a stand, but it became the first country to support the US. No attempt was made to substantiate the allegations against Mr Bustani and the US caused a financial crisis by refusing to pay what it owed unless Mr Bustani went, which would mean the end of the organization. If Iraq signed the chemical weapons convention, this would make an alternative to war, but Saddam Hussein would hardly accept weapons inspectors from the Security Councilıs Unmovic (United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission). Sadly, however, it was revealed that the US had prevailed in its unjustified and unconstitutional attempts to get rid of Mr Bustani, which lays the way open for a declaration of war at some time in the future with - as yet - unforeseen, and possibly devastating, consequences. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-337341,00.html * BUSH WARNED AGAINST HASTY ACTION ON IRAQ by Roland Watson The Times, 25th June PRESIDENT Bush is being warned by his allies in Washington and London that their support for military action against Saddam Hussein cannot be taken for granted. Republican and Democrat leaders have cautioned him against launching a hasty attack on Iraq. They have also questioned whether the potential scale of a full invasion, involving up to 250,000 US troops, makes it worthwhile. Britain, while sharing deep concern at the dangers Saddam poses to the international community, is also far from offering open-ended support for military operations. As Mr Bush tries to step up the case against rogue states and press home a US policy of pre-emptive strikes, British officals emphasise the need for support among other governments, particularly Arab states, for attacking Saddam. One British official, referring to Saddam, said: ³We want to deal with it but we want to deal with it in the international community. Weıre convinced he is developing weapons which are a threat to the region and to stability more widely. But itıs very important to work as far as possible with international opinion.² London was not setting conditions for British support, the official said, but added: ³We want to make sure thereıs an international consensus that action needs to be taken². Other British sources said the key for London would be whether there was sufficient support among Arab states in the Gulf and the Middle East, or at least an absence of opposition, to taking on Saddam. As Washingtonıs closest ally in the war on terror, and the only European country to have tried to make the case for confronting Saddam, losing Britainıs support would be a blow to Mr Bush. It also shows he has further to go in convincing Britain and the rest of Europe of the credibility of American pre-emptive strikes. However, administration officials in Washington say the lack of British military involvement against Iraq would not deter Mr Bush. The Pentagon is drawing up options for possible attacks, none of which is conditional on British support. ³This is going ahead regardless of what the Brits might say,² said one official. But Mr Bush does face hurdles closer to home. Members of Congress have expressed scepticism about the wisdom of an attack, particularly while the Middle East is in turmoil. Dennis Hastert, the House Speaker, has said Israel should be the focus of Washingtonıs foreign policy. Trent Lott, the Senate minority leader, said he feared that US forces were stretched to the limit. Henry Hyde, Republican chairman of the House international relations committee, said: ³An attack on Iraq would involve untold consequences². Bob Graham, Democrat chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, was concerned that a premature attack could fracture the coalition of nations co-operating in the US war on terror. Their comments warned Mr Bush that he should not forget Congress in planning against Saddam, a sign that he may be forced, like his father, to seek a congressional resolution before committing US troops in the Gulf. Mr Bush was also facing renewed pressure yesterday about other foreign policy priorities when two Democratic presidential hopefuls criticised his failure to lay out his Middle East peace plan. John Kerry, a Massachusetts senator, said the administration was guilty of a catastrophic mismanagement of the crisis by engaging only fitfully. He said: ³There is no continuity, there is no fundamental plan. They sent mixed signals to every side, if any signals at all. And in the end, I think they have contributed significantly to their own dilemma and to the dilemma of the Middle East today as a result of that.² http://www.sunspot.net/news/opinion/oped/bal op.chapman25jun25.story?coll=bal%2Doped%2Dheadlines * NO REASON BEHIND IRAQ ATTACK by Steve Chapman Baltimore Sun, 25th June CHICAGO -- Before Jose Padilla was locked up on suspicion of plotting a "dirty bomb" attack on the United States, he lived in Egypt, hooked up with Osama bin Laden's confederates in Pakistan and Afghanistan and boarded a flight home in Switzerland. So which country is implicated by his bloodcurdling activities? Why, Iraq, of course. That was the thinking on The Wall Street Journal's editorial page, which blames Saddam Hussein for everything that it can't manage to pin on Bill Clinton. After the news broke on Mr. Padilla, also known as Abdullah al Muhajir, the Journal trotted out a former Iraqi official who wrote, "The arrest of a 'dirty bomb' suspect in Chicago has focused attention once again on al-Qaida. But it would be a mistake to ignore possible state links, especially with Saddam Hussein." The author, Khidhir Hamza, recalled that when he was head of Iraq's nuclear program in the 1980s, a test was done of a dirty bomb. All that was missing in this article was any evidence that Mr. Padilla had a connection with Iraq, that Iraq has stockpiled dirty bombs or that Mr. Hussein is planning to attack the United States. Never mind. "Restricting the lookout for this source of terrorism to al-Qaida is taking the easy way out," warned Mr. Hamza. Well, yes. It is taking the easy way out to go after the people who are trying to attack you rather than the people who are not. But somehow it makes more sense than doing the converse. The impulse to use any scare as grounds to attack Iraq has been on display since Sept. 11. The hawks immediately suspected Saddam Hussein, trumpeting reports that Mohammed Atta conferred with one of his henchmen in Prague last year. That turned out to be a false lead. After an exhaustive investigation, the Los Angeles Times reported last month, "U.S. investigators no longer believe that suicide hijacker Mohammed Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence agent in Europe last year, eliminating the only known link between Saddam Hussein's government and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks." Likewise, when anthrax-tainted letters turned up last fall, suspicions once again fell on Iraq. Now, the FBI has pretty much abandoned that notion as well -- concluding that the villain was most likely an American who has some scientific training and a grudge against the government. You'd think the conspicuous lack of evidence tying Saddam Hussein to anti-American terrorism would argue against an invasion of Iraq. But the consensus in favor of a pre emptive strike has reached near unanimity in Washington. Democratic as well as Republican leaders on Capitol Hill have endorsed such action, and President Bush leaves little doubt that he is planning to do whatever it takes to get rid of Mr. Hussein. "I will not stand by as peril grows closer and closer," announced the president in a recent speech at West Point, in a clear reference to Iraq. "If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long." All this is a clever way of getting around a major inconvenience: Mr. Hussein's refusal to provoke us. Even though he has apparently been a mere spectator in the war between terrorists and the United States, Mr. Bush says we know he's a bad guy who wants weapons of mass destruction. So he has to be eliminated lest he ever acquire the means to attack us. But there's no reason to think Mr. Hussein would attack us if he had such armaments. He could have used his chemical or biological weapons in 1991, when we were pounding his army to pieces. He didn't, because he knew we would wipe him and his regime off the face of the earth. That stark prospect explains his reluctance to join forces with al-Qaida. He knows that if we uncover any direct connection between Baghdad and terrorist attacks against us, he'll be as defunct as the pharaohs. So Mr. Hussein may be a chronic irritant, but he poses no danger that we can't contain. The real danger would arise if we were to launch an invasion of Iraq -- which the Joint Chiefs of Staff have informed the president would require some 200,000 troops. Worse, it would erase the one powerful reason Mr. Hussein has not to use any chemical, biological or nuclear weapons he may possess. If he's going to be destroyed regardless of what he does, why wouldn't he do his worst? Therein lies the genius of the hawks' plan for Iraq: It replaces a policy that has deterred Mr. Hussein from using weapons of mass destruction with an approach that virtually guarantees their use. With solutions like that, who needs problems? http://www.iht.com/articles/62966.html * WHITE HOUSE HAWK ON SADDAM QUITS by Thomas E. Ricks International Herald Tribune (from The Washington Post), 29th June WASHINGTON: The top White House official for coordinating the federal government's counteroffensive against terrorism has resigned in a surprise decision that removed one of the Bush administration's leading advocates of launching aggressive and unconventional attacks on terrorist networks. The departure of retired army General Wayne Downing, who also has been an outspoken hawk in administration debates about how to deal with Saddam Hussein, raised questions among security experts about both the administration's plans to improve homeland security through a massive government reorganization and the direction of its policy on Iraq. Downing could not be reached for comment on his decision Thursday, which came 10 months after he joined the White House staff as deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism. A White House statement announcing Downing's resignation offered no reason for it. "He's completed the initial taskings that the president, Condoleezza Rice and Governor Tom Ridge set for him," said Sean McCormack, a spokesman for the National Security Council. Rice is national security adviser and Ridge heads the Office of Homeland Security. The White House said Downing, 62, would be succeeded by another retired general, John Gordon, who is chief of the Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Administration, and previously was deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Several defense experts said they were stunned by Downing's departure. "I think it's bad news for the war," said Eliot Cohen, an expert on defense strategy at Johns Hopkins University. "Downing is a thoughtful warrior, unconventional in the best sense, with a creative military mind, which is what you need when you are fighting a strange war." Downing has been a leading advocate of what has come to be known as "the Downing plan" for confronting Iraq. That approach, which calls for using a mix of special operations troops, air power and Iraqi rebels to topple Saddam, has been viewed skeptically by much of the military leadership, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Top military officials, including General Tommy Franks, the army commander for U.S. military operations in the Gulf and Afghanistan, are more inclined toward a Gulf War-like force of at least 200,000 troops that would take several months to assemble. Downing has been effective in debates over Iraq policy because he is a Gulf War veteran who commanded part of the special operations forces in the 1991 conflict. "Because of his background, he could argue his position in a way" that administration hawks who lack military experience cannot in their debates with the uniformed military, said a Republican foreign policy adviser. Downing was said to be uncomfortable with his limited advisory role as a White House staffer. "He was told, and foolishly believed, that he would have co-equal status with Condi," said a Republican defense expert, referring to Rice. "He thought he would have involvement in all sorts of things that it turned out he isn't involved in. And he wasn't allowed to do the things he thought he was hired to do." http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-341186,00.html * ANTI-TERROR CHIEF QUITS AFTER BEING 'IGNORED' [EXTRACT] by Roland Watson The Times, 29th June [.....] A more likely reason for his departure is a growing frustration among some Administration officials with Mr Bushıs plan for securing US soil against future terrorist attacks. The President refused for months to take up General Downingıs plan for a new department of homeland security. Earlier this month he surprised Congress by asking it to pass a Bill creating such a department. General Downing will be replaced by General John Gordon, a former senior official at the CIA who served under President Bushıs father. PROSPECTS FOR WAR http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Artic le_Type1&c=Article&cid=1022100309148&call_page=TS_World&call_pageid=96833218 8854&call_pagepath=News/World&col=968350060724 * SIGHTING IN ON SADDAM by Carla Anne Robbins and Jeanne Cummings Daily Star, Bangladesh (from The Wall Street Journal?), 23rd June WASHINGTON IN THE chaotic days after Sept. 11, as several of his top advisers argued over whether to launch a strike on Iraq, U.S. President George W. Bush sided with those urging restraint. There was, after all, no real evidence that Saddam Hussein's regime had anything to do with the terror attacks. President Bush wanted to keep the focus on Al Qaeda, the Afghanistan based terrorist group that engineered the deadly hijackings. But now, a showdown with Iraq appears nearly inevitable. What happened? In late October, the president received a series of chilling briefings that persuaded him that Iraq posed a major threat to America. U.S. intelligence agencies, he was told, had begun picking up warnings of an even more spectacular attack one that, according to national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, could "make Sept. 11 look like child's play by using some terrible weapon." Other officials say the warnings came shortly after the U.S. identified four Pakistani scientists who appeared to have coached Osama bin Laden's terror organization in a quest to acquire nuclear weapons or material. Putting two and two together, the administration in the last few days of October sent private notices to Washington police and congressional intelligence committees about the threat of a "dirty bomb" that uses conventional explosives to spew radioactive material. Just as it had done immediately after Sept. 11, the White House again decided to keep Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney separated, to make sure that at least one would survive any such attack. The attack didn't come. Nor, again, could Iraq be linked to any nuclear plot. Nevertheless, the knowledge that Al Qaeda was aggressively searching for weapons of mass destruction and wooing outside support transformed the president's thinking about America's enemies, and the horrors that could unfold if any of them made such weapons available to terrorists. As Bush and his advisers ticked off likely candidates, Iraq topped the list of countries with both an arsenal of chemical, biological and perhaps nuclear weapons, and the apparent will to use them. Beyond U.S. policy toward Iraq, the episode helps explain why the White House has begun a fundamental reassessment of national-security doctrine. During the Cold War, the U.S. relied on the threat of massive retaliation to deter attacks from hostile countries. But Sept. 11, and all the U.S. has learned since about the terrorists' appetite for devastating weapons and their utter lack of concern for their own survival, has persuaded Bush that sometimes the U.S. will have to strike first against its enemies. "If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long," Bush told graduating cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., recently. While Bush didn't mention Iraq by name, it increasingly looks like the proving ground for that new approach. In private, the president has asked the Pentagon's top brass what it would take to oust Hussein militarily. In public, he warns Americans of the danger he sees. Speaking in Germany late last month, he called a potential Iraq-Al Qaeda alliance "a threat to civilization itself." U.S. officials say no final decision has been made on whether to move militarily against Iraq. Military commanders have told Bush that the task could require 200,000 troops, and, given the strains of the Afghan campaign, about six months to get troops and weapons ready. Key civilian leaders in the Pentagon and the White House argue that the job can be done smaller and faster. The debate is likely to continue throughout the fall. This focus on Iraq was far from preordained. In his first nine months in office, in fact, Bush hadn't made Iraq a top priority, and an interagency review on the country was languishing on Sept. 11. Immediately after the terror strikes on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, Bush actually overruled advisers who wanted to take on Iraq along with Afghanistan in the first wave of the new war on terrorism. "I don't know about the hypothetical, of what we would have done if we'd had absolute evidence that Iraq was involved," a senior official says, but with the threat of more attacks to come "it made a lot of sense at that moment" to focus on taking down Al Qaeda. The picture is quite different from the common assumption that Bush's prime motivation is to settle an old score for his father, who drove Iraqi forces from Kuwait but failed to do away with Hussein. That bit of family business appears to have little to do with Bush's current attitude. Even in the first weeks after Sept. 11, Iraq didn't figure prominently in Bush's thinking, particularly after Central Intelligence Agency director George Tenet reported there was "no evidence" Iraq was involved On Sept. 20, when the president made a now-famous speech to a joint session of Congress calling for a global war on terrorism, he pointedly made no mention of Iraq. But soon afterward, other fears started growing, reaching a peak in the last 10 days of October. Sometime after Sept. 11, U.S. intelligence agencies learned two Pakistani nuclear scientists, members of a pro-Taliban Islamic charity and experts on nuclear fuel, had travelled to Afghanistan to meet with bin Laden. Pakistan's secret service picked up the two in the third week in October, and news of their arrests has become public. After their release, the two were kept under surveillance. But there was another, perhaps more serious concern. U.S. officials say they were even more worried about two other scientists, veterans of Pakistan's nuclear-weapons complex and associates of the first two scientists. One of them was already suspected of trying to sell weapons designs to unsavoury clients. While the U.S. had no information that they, too, had travelled to Afghanistan, analysts were worried that they had still managed to pass on critical information about how to build weapons to Al Qaeda. U.S. officials declined to comment on their current whereabouts. These nuclear fears surged in late October, officials say, when U.S. intelligence began picking up intercepted conversations and other warnings predicting an even more spectacular attack to come. The warnings mentioned specific windows of time. But they didn't refer to specific weapons or locations. Analysts assumed the target was either Washington or New York City. The onset of anthrax mail attacks a few weeks earlier only fed that anxiety. Some intelligence analysts cautioned that the statements might be empty boasting, especially at a time when U.S. bombers were pounding Afghanistan daily. But the reports that Al Qaeda had gotten coaching from Pakistani nuclear experts led others to theorize something far more terrifying: that Al Qaeda had already managed to smuggle in a so-called dirty bomb, a conventional explosive wrapped with radioactive material, or possibly even a small nuclear weapon although the latter was considered far more difficult to acquire and less likely to have occurred. By the last few days of October, the White House was so persuaded about the danger that officials quietly informed local police in Washington and the congressional intelligence committees of the dirty-bomb threat. Tenet, the CIA director, testified in 1999 that bin Laden had declared it his religious duty to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Now, during the last 10 days of October, Tenet gave several briefings to the president and his top aides at the White House about Al Qaeda's desire to acquire such weapons and what the group might be planning. As part of his late October briefings, Tenet discussed which other countries had the capability and the malice to help Al Qaeda acquire weapons of mass destruction. For that, Iraq topped the list. Visitors to the White House at the time reported privately that Bush seemed haunted by a nuclear threat At one of his morning intelligence briefings he told his advisers, "We have to be thankful that on Sept. 11 they didn't have a weapon of mass destruction instead of an airplane," one participant says. Every day for at least two weeks, he ended those meetings exhorting the group, "We have to make sure that this doesn't happen." In early November, in a speech broadcast to a European antiterrorism summit, Bush made his first public mention of the danger, warning that Al Qaeda is seeking chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. There was another bit of troubling intelligence emerging. Czech intelligence officials reported that Sept. 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta had met an Iraqi agent in Prague in April, 2001. That presented a possible Iraqi connection not a nuclear one, but one tied to a terrorist who had just targeted the U.S. mainland. U.S. intelligence officials said the Czechs had no hard proof to back up the claim. All told, the environment was becoming more welcoming for officials at the Pentagon, as well as members of Vice-President Cheney's staff, who were eager to target Iraq. With the Taliban suddenly crumbling in Afghanistan, the idea of waging a similar small war in Iraq "stopped looking unthinkable," says an official who is still skeptical. Shortly after Sept. 11, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld hosted a meeting of his Defence Policy Board, an advisory panel that includes former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, former vice-president Dan Quayle, former speakers of the House Newt Gingrich and Tom Foley, and former CIA director James Woolsey. For two days, the group debated an attack against Iraq. Ahmed Chalabi, who leads the Iraqi National Congress, the exile group with the most sway in Washington, was invited to speak and, when asked to leave the room during the private discussions, he toured the cleanup efforts in the burned-out wing of the Pentagon. At the end of the meeting, several members of the advisory committee were convinced an attack was warranted, according to three members of the group. Perhaps more important, Cheney became more convinced of the need to act on Iraq. The vice-president, who was secretary of defence during the Gulf War, always seemed more concerned about the Iraq legacy than Bush. At a celebration dinner after the 2000 presidential campaign, he privately told a group of friends that the new White House team may have a rare historic opportunity to right a wrong committed during a previous term the mistake of leaving Hussein in place atop the Iraqi government. He also hired a staff filled with Iraq hawks. But in the early months of the administration Cheney had other priorities to focus on, including energy policy and managing relations with Congress. In the days after Sept. 11 he was one of the important voices cautioning the president against taking on too many fights at once. During his weeks in seclusion, though, Cheney began boring in on Iraq. At one point, he invited to a private dinner Bernard Lewis, a Princeton University scholar who is a Middle East expert with hard-line views on Iraq. Lewis won't discuss the dinner in detail, but explains his view that the U.S. was guilty of "betrayals" of the Iraqi people when it failed in both 1991 and 1995 to adequately support uprisings against Hussein inside Iraq. Lewis argues that opposition groups opposed to the Iraqi leader are viable and provide the best hope for a stable democracy in the Arab world. The worst the U.S. can do now is show weakness or delay. Meanwhile, Iraqi opposition groups began pressing harder to turn the administration. Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress, brought defectors to Washington with reports of new Iraqi weapons programs and terrorist training camps. Hawks at the Pentagon were particularly troubled by the presentation offered by Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haidari, a concrete contractor, who told U.S. authorities in December he had helped build dozens of Hussein's latest weapons labs, and they were scattered throughout Baghdad underneath homes and mosques. Saeed came out of Iraq with work orders to back up his claims. Other officials, however, said they found the defectors' presentations so well-rehearsed, they suspected they may have been embroidering the facts. Still, the stream of stories added to the gathering momentum. Finally, soon after Christmas, Bush and his advisers started discussing ideas for the president's late-January State of the Union address. The president made clear early on that he wanted the speech to highlight the dangers of terrorists acquiring weapons of mass destruction, as well as list the countries that might help them. The most memorable line from that speech was Bush's depiction of Iraq, Iran and North Korea as part of an "axis of evil." Not only are these states seeking weapons of mass destruction, Bush warned, "they could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred." Looking back, U.S. officials say they may well have overestimated Al Qaeda's access to weapons of mass destruction and the extent of the help provided by the Pakistani scientists. By late fall, American troops were on the ground in Afghanistan and sorting through Al Qaeda labs, offices, houses and caves. What they found was less than originally feared, though still frightening. Designs for nuclear weapons were "rudimentary, the sort of thing you'd draw on a cocktail napkin," one intelligence official says. U.S. troops found no sign that Al Qaeda had managed to acquire chemical or biological weapons or any nuclear material. Crucially, U.S. officials recently concluded, after an exhaustive review, they have no hard evidence to confirm the report that Atta, the Sept. 11 hijacker, actually met an Iraqi intelligence official in Prague last year. Officials also warn, though, that they can't be certain that bin Laden or his top aides, who still haven't been found, don't have weapons or their components hidden somewhere else. The information gathered in Afghanistan from documents, computers, books and research notes demonstrates Al Qaeda's enormous appetite for such weapons, an appetite likely to be satisfied given enough time. In any case, the turn toward Iraq has been made. Earlier this month, Rumsfeld left for a trip to the Middle East, specifically saying he would be raising with foreign leaders the nuclear threat from Iraq Cheney added to the drumbeat vowing "a regime that hates America and everything we stand for must never be permitted to threaten America with weapons of mass destruction." While Bush is adamant about a regime change in Iraq, aides say the administration is far from deciding how to make that happen. "I made up my mind that Saddam needs to go. That's about all I'm willing to share with you," Bush said in an interview with British journalists in April. http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/50898.htm * SPOOKS VS. SADDAM by Jim Hoagland New York Post, 23rd June June 23, 2002 -- CIA officials are telling key members of Congress that the spy agency has only a 10 percent to 15 percent chance of recruiting an Iraqi general to put a bullet in the brain of Saddam Hussein or of mounting any other successful covert operation that would avoid a U.S. invasion of Iraq. No surprise, except perhaps for the admirable realism of the spooks' assessment. The agency's best efforts at overthrowing the Iraqi dictator have failed for a decade. Its record of picking the wrong horses and tactics has robbed the CIA's leadership and operatives of the confidence they would need to grant President Bush's wish that they relieve him of having to invade Iraq by next winter. It is in many ways a misguided wish. Relying solely on the CIA to deal with Saddam Hussein misreads the strong points both of the agency and of the American nation when at war. Covert action has its place in the toolbox of statecraft. But when forced to carry the burden of American policy and to pick new dictators for Third World populations - what the agency is being asked to do in Iraq right now - covert action usually falls on its face. As he moves toward the decisive moments in both the long and flawed U.S. quasi-war with Iraq and his own war on global terrorism, Bush needs to consider carefully what worked in the Cold War and why. This is as true in "public diplomacy" - the euphemism for that other black art, national propaganda promotion - as it is in covert action, and for similar reasons. The Voice of America and other propaganda outlets were important instruments in winning the Cold War. Soviet and East European citizens were given an easily assimilated message: "Your government is lying to you. It is lying about your condition in life, about itself and most of all about the West." No reasonably well-informed Russian, Pole or Frenchman could dispute such demonstrable truth. Using the massive powers of the United States to tell Muslim nations that the deranged criminal Osama bin Laden is lying to the world is using a sledgehammer to smash a gnat. The continuing problems in the U.S. propaganda war are not a matter of the Muslim audience "liking" or "hating" America. Instead, this audience has no basis for trusting the message it is being given. Bush's public diplomatists have been given Mission Impossible. That fate is also being dealt again to the CIA in Iraq. Back in 1995, its absolute best-case scenario for toppling Saddam was undercut by a panicky Clinton White House. The agency's current director, George Tenet, seems suitably modest about his chances of succeeding with significantly less help on the ground this time around. Tenet's public congressional testimony suggests that he understands that the agency is most effective in supporting roles in large actions that have goals beyond "regime change." Its operatives can help shape the terrain in overt military operations, where U.S. armed forces represent national consensus and operate under well-developed sets of rules, law and tradition supported by the American public. Success has also come when the CIA quietly supported endangered foreign democratic institutions such as labor unions, political parties or the odd band of intellectuals, as it did in Europe in the Cold War. Agency disasters have struck when it has ridden off on its own, as it did in Vietnam, Guatemala and more recently in its dealings with Yasser Arafat's corrupt henchmen. The spies, like the propagandists, go wrong when they do not put America's most abiding principles of honesty, fairness and democracy at the center of their work. They cannot be angels or alchemists. But they cannot betray what America stands for and expect to create anything of value or durability. http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2002/06/26/205.html * GULF WAR LESSONS FOR THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION by William M. Arkin Moscow Times (from Los Angeles Times), 26th June WASHINGTON -- It is now crystal clear that the Bush administration intends to go to war with Iraq. The armed forces have gone so far as to create a top-secret code name for the planning. They call it "Polo Step," and access is highly restricted and compartmentalized. Unfortunately, the determination to fight has not been matched by a clear, creative, carefully thought-out approach to developing strategy and tactics -- an approach that would take into account the full capabilities of the armed forces today and the real lessons of Operation Desert Storm. Many members of the Bush national security team are veterans of the first war with Iraq, among them Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Colin Powell. Yet Pentagon planners have received little guidance beyond hazy injunctions to bring about "regime change" and eliminate Saddam Hussein's capacity to build weapons of mass destruction. The result is a planning vacuum, filled by a cacophony of competing proposals and "concepts" that reflect the biases of individual services or the pipedreams of political factions: Launch 250,000 U.S. ground troops from Kuwait, some suggest; pound hundreds of Iraqi targets with unrestricted air power, others urge; send in the Special Forces to work their Afghanistan-style magic among the Kurds; or, the favorite of right-wing hawks, unleash that phantom resistance force known as the Iraqi National Congress. The compartmentalized secrecy classification only makes it harder to get the planning process back onto solid ground. Wars cannot be planned on the floors of Congress, or in other public places. But locking out most of the Defense Department's own professionals doesn't work well either. U.S. military power is in the midst of such a radical transition, and the challenge posed by Saddam is so difficult, that President George W. Bush needs the best minds available -- all of them -- thinking as boldly as possible. A good place to start would be with "Engagement Area Thomas." Probably no one in the Bush White House would recognize the name, and few if any among the Defense Department's current civilian leadership would either. But "EA Thomas," as the Army called it back in 1991, offers today's war planners a lesson they sorely need right now. Every armchair general knows about the famous "left hook" of Desert Storm, the nighttime sweep across the desert to the west of Kuwait that carried U.S. tanks and other armored forces around the unguarded left flank of Saddam's vaunted defensive line and routed his legions. Less well known is the role of the 101st Airborne Division. The Screaming Eagles were on the leading edge of the left hook with a specialized assault force of more than 200 Apache and Cobra attack helicopters. The then-new Apaches, in particular, carried the Hellfire antitank missile, which would become famous in Afghanistan a decade later when CIA drones launched them against elusive al-Qaida targets. The 101st was to use the firepower and mobility of its attack helicopters and light infantry to slow any Iraqi onslaught until the heavy armor of other divisions could reach the scene. As it happened, after 39 days of U.S. and allied bombing, Hussein's forces were no longer in the onslaught business. Instead of fighting a delaying action, the 101st leapfrogged 155 miles farther into southern Iraq. There, it established massive refueling and rearming points in the desert; they were supposed to support further attacks into the ancient heart of Iraq, the Euphrates River valley, which lay at the far northwest edge of the U.S. battlefield. Apache helicopters from the 101st launched attacks into the marshes. And commanders had decided to set up a "kill box" 200 kilometers farther to the east on a stretch of Highway 6 they designated "Engagement Area Thomas." Thomas was just 10 kilometers north of Basra, Iraq's second-largest city. The division's plan was to airlift its 1st Brigade of light infantry into Thomas, in a move its official history says "would have firmly closed the door on the escaping Iraqi army by blocking the north-south Basra road." The plan was extraordinarily bold. It meant airlifting hundreds of U.S. troops far beyond the existing battlefront and landing them behind a retreating but still heavily armored enemy. But out of the blue -- or so it seemed to the Screaming Eagles -- an overall cease-fire was declared and the war ended. The rest, as they say, is history. General Norman Schwarzkopf famously declared the gate closed on escaping Iraqi military units. In fact, the gate was not closed, and much of the Republican Guards, Saddam's best trained and equipped units, escaped into the megalopolis of Basra as the war ended. Saddam's was a slow moving and truly defeated army, and the United States had the mobility and the audacity to perform complete surprises, if creative thinkers who actually understood the geography and the battle conditions had been allowed to use their creativity. But Schwarzkopf, and by extension, Washington, did not see what air power had already achieved in defeating Saddam's army. They were myopically wed to the doctrine that the only effective way to wage a war is to overwhelm a theater of operations with ground troops, effectively matching Iraqi tanks one for one. U.S. military leaders and their civilian superiors could not conceive that southern Iraq could be split off from Baghdad through Army air power -- or that an audacious move by airborne troops could isolate an entire Iraqi army, with all the negotiating leverage that would have given the United States against Saddam. That is precisely the lesson of EA Thomas, however. New weapons and equipment are opening the way to new strategies and new tactics, but the technology is changing faster than the understanding and vision of those who command it. If the Bush administration is to fight a second war with Saddam, what it needs to do above all else is to break free of its obsession with secrecy and bring its best military minds to bear on the problem of devising strategies and tactics that take full advantage of the revolutionary capabilities our armed forces now possess. The current Central Command proposal to launch 250,000 troops from Kuwait in a Normandy-style invasion does not represent the kind of audacious thinking the problem requires and our present capabilities will support. Neither does the notion of pounding hundreds of targets in an all out air war. And the right-wing love affair with the CIA-created Iraqi National Congress or with Kurdish fighters in the north is foolishness. But a combination of all those approaches, coupling air-mobile Army assault forces with strategic air power and covert operators linked to proxy forces like those in Afghanistan, offers the best hope of a positive outcome--not just on the battlefield but in whatever comes afterward. So far, that is not happening. Polo Step briefings are filled with arrows and symbols for bridges and other targets, with no sense of taking real advantage of Iraqi geography, the ability to isolate Basra or the fact that the Kurds already control a huge portion of the north -- including usable airfields (remember what airfields in Pakistan and Uzbekistan meant for Afghanistan?). Whatever the Bush administration decides to do militarily, Americans need to approach from three fronts -- north, south and west. That means Special Forces and helicopters. It means desert boots and aircraft on Iraqi territory. Putting U.S. forces inside Iraq will convey the deadly serious message that the United States is not going to walk away this time. It will say the United States is not hoping to match Hussein tank for tank. And it is not going to keep on trying to hit Saddam through the Iraqi civilian population -- the one form of warfare he can probably survive indefinitely. Most important, the best plan for the United States is to say exactly what it is going to do right up to the end, so that the Iraqi people and the rest of the world understand. William M. Arkin is a military affairs analyst who writes regularly for the Los Angeles Times, where this comment first appeared. http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/178/nation/US_near_appointment_of_Iraq_env oy+.shtml * US NEAR APPOINTMENT OF IRAQ ENVOY by Anthony Shadid and Anne E. Kornblut, Boston Globe, 27th June WASHINGTON - The Bush administration is close to appointing a coordinator to pull together US policy toward the Iraqi opposition, which dissident groups have complained is woefully divided among the Pentagon, the State Department, and the CIA. The designation of an envoy could come within weeks, a White House official said this week. Analysts say such a step would be a sign of US seriousness in moving ahead on its declared intention to overthrow Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi president. ''It would be the single voice of the United States government to speak with the opposition,'' the administration official said on condition of anonymity. ''This person will be the government spokesman, period.'' Officials say the envoy would likely come from the State Department but carry the authority of the White House, providing the clout necessary to bridge sharp differences between the Pentagon and the State Department. The appointment of an envoy would mark a turning point in US policy toward Iraqi dissidents, suggesting in part the failure so far of efforts to forge a credible and cohesive opposition. As important, it would signal a growing realization in Washington that Hussein's overthrow may pale before the job of building a new government, given Iraq's striking religious and ethnic diversity. The opposition, analysts say, will be crucial in that task. [.....] US officials contend that dealing with the opposition is - in the words of one - like ''herding cats'' and complain that differences of religion, ethnicity, and often personality have fractured a movement that will be counted on in a post-Hussein government. In addition, they say, President Bush has yet to make a decision on what plan to pursue in toppling Hussein. Once he does, they contend, policy toward the opposition will probably fall in line. In the meantime, the coordinator would better define US policy. The administration official said the post would likely not resemble the job Francis Ricciardone held from 1999 until early 2001. He served as the State Department's special coordinator for the transition of Iraq. But in addition to divisions within the opposition, he had to contend with critics in Congress and the Pentagon pushing for a more assertive policy, offset by military chiefs who feared being dragged into a US-armed insurgency. ''Frank did his best to cobble the whole thing together,'' said Edward S. Walker, who oversaw the Middle East at the State Department at the time. While officials caution no decision has been made, the job is expected to look more like the post held by James Dobbins, when he worked as a special adviser to the president and secretary of state for the Balkans beginning in 1999. As the administration's senior envoy to the Balkans, he dealt with NATO and the UN Security Council, supervised the civilian aspects of operations in Kosovo and Bosnia, and managed US relief efforts in the Balkans. Analysts suggest that the success of the post will depend on the candidate chosen. ''The success of envoys is based on the capabilities of individuals,'' said David L. Phillips, a specialist on Iraq at the Council on Foreign Relations. ''If they assign the task to somebody who has clout in the administration and commands respect of opposition leaders, it should achieve its goals.'' http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020628/2002062808.html * AMERICAN REINFORCEMENT IN TURKEY FOR STRIKING IRAQ; BAGHDAD: DIALOGUE WITH THE UN WILL NOT BRING BACK THE INSPECTORS Arabic News, 28th June The Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri has announced that the expected dialogue between Iraq and the UN will not discuss the return back of the UN inspectors, but will concentrate on "implementing obligations set by the UN," while the US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said the US is proceeding in its way to get rid off President Saddam Hussein. On the sideline of OIC meetings concluded on Thursday in Khartoum, Sabri said that the expected meeting between him and the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in Vienna on July 4 and 5 aims at "achieving a comprehensive solution for the question of Iraq and complete lifting of the brutal siege imposed on Iraq and honoring Iraq's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity." Rice, on the other hand, said in an interview with the French magazine L' Express on Thursday that the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and his regime constitute a threat to international stability. She repeated previous American accusations of the Iraqi regime in attempting to get nuclear weapons in 1981 and 1991 and that it expelled the UN inspectors because it has things it does not want to be disclosed and that Saddam Hussein had once used the mass- annihilation weapons against his people. On the other hand, the Turkish daily "Yani Shafak" said on Thursday quoting sources at the Turkish foreign ministry that the US had transported soldiers by planes during the last two weeks and many of them were deployed at Incerlike base in Adanah. The paper added that Washington has started reinforcement of its forces in the region following its decision to start military operations against Baghdad during the two next month. The paper added that the number of US troopers in Turkey will be increased from 7,000 to 25,000 during July. However, the US defense department announced on Wednesday that Iran has recently prevented oil containers which carry smuggled Iraqi oil from escaping the UN monitoring ships. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk